One of Australia's most respected athletes will add yet another
accolade to his long list of achievements this week. Michael Milton will
be inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
His achievements are legendary not just for the results but for the sheer
extent of his exploits. It's a long list that starts not long after he
lost his leg to bone cancer at nine years of age.
As an alpine skier, he's competed in five Paralympic Games and won 22
international medals, including six Paralympic gold medals and six gold
at world championships.
Milton was the first Australian to win a winter gold medal in 1992 - ten
years before Steven Bradbury - and, at his last winter Games, he won all
four alpine medals in his class. As Milton says "...Not bad for a skier
He is the world's fastest ever skier with a disability, clocking a
staggering 213.65 kilometres per hour in 2006, a speed that also made him
Australia's fastest skier ever, a record he still holds today.
Milton has won a slew of awards, including the Laureus World Athlete of
the year with a Disability, and was named as one of the Australian
Institute of Sport's 25 Best of the Best athletes in their
25th anniversary year.
Despite a second cancer battle (oesophageal cancer in 2007 after losing
his leg to bone cancer at nine years of age) Milton competed as a cyclist
at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games just 12 months after chemotherapy,
radiotherapy and major surgery.
Since then Milton has also represented Australia at two Paratriathlon
World Championships and completed the 2013 Gold Coast Marathon on
Whilst retired from elite competition, there is no letting up for the
Paralympic great - who rides regularly, competes in mountain bike races
and takes on adventure challenges.
"I still like to think of myself as a bit of a weekend warrior athlete
and I still do lots of physical stuff. For me it's about sharing my
passion for the outdoors and being able to share that with other
The honour of joining fellow Paralympic greats Louise
Sauvage and David Hall in the Sport Australia
Hall of Fame is not lost on Milton.
"I'm obviously very proud to be joining Louise and David but I think
there should be more Paralympians on the roll. Some organisations lag
behind in recognising not just athletes with disability but also people
who excel in less mainstream sports.
However, Milton says he is humbled to be joining some of his biggest
heroes in the Sports Australia Hall of Fame.
"I will be in amazing company. Many of the people on the list have been a
source of inspiration for me. It's quite overwhelming," he said when
informed of his pending elevation.
And on the subject of the mountains he faced in pursuing his feats, in
addition to those he so ably raced down, Milton sends a poignant message
to those who may follow.
"The most challenging part about living with a disability has been the
low expectations of most people I come across.
"Sadly, our culture often expects very little of someone with a
disability. We make all sorts of assumptions which are obstacles in
themselves. Yes, I walk with crutches but I am quite capable of putting
my own groceries through the checkout or walking Kokoda.
"Success for me has often involved rising above the expectations of
others or even flying in the face of those who genuinely think I can't
achieve a goal I've set myself. That lack of faith can be a great
motivator but for some it could easily be a barrier," said Milton.
He is less emphatic on another matter. When asked to choose which of his
achievements is the best, he was reluctant to nominate whether one
trumped the others.
"Probably not, there has been so many and for many different reasons. I
don't like to place one above the others. It's like saying I prefer one
of my children over another."
The Sport Australia Hall of Fame Selection Committee is clearly of the
view that Milton remains a role model for all Australians.
"Michael Milton not only defies limits, he destroys them! All
champions rise to a challenge, but Michael takes this to a new level, and
through his incredible achievements he inspires us all to never give up,
no matter how tough things look, " Committee chair Robert de Castella
Olympic skiing great, Malcolm Milne, will have the
honour of making the presentation to Michael Milton as part of
his official Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction on Thursday night.